improving a faint PDF file

I do not have any version of this document but this one available to me. It is very faint. Is there a way to fix that after the fact without he full version of adobe?

Copy/paste everything into a Word docment? There will be a lot of reformatting after that, but it’ll be readable, if that’s all you’re after.

What’s your end goal?

I tried saving it as a text file, since it contains renderable text (don’t know if it was created with Distiller, or if someone ran it through Acrobat’s OCR engine).

Oddly, the words all run together. There are no spaces between the words. So I’m not sure bringing it into Word will help much.

It looks perfectly fine to me.
The font is a bit thin, but it doesn’t look “faint.”

I brought it into Word. It works. Kind of. It’s a little messy, in that there are some underscores where spaces or periods should be, but for the most part it’s readable.

Perhaps the original author(s) could be located/contacted and asked for a better copy, maybe the original Word doc?

These aren’t actually the same process, so you can’t discount one simply because the other didn’t work. That said, copying/pasting into Word has it’s own problems; the spacing between words is fine, but the hard returns are not how you would expect them to to be (that is, they’re more literal).

I used to work converting PDFs to various formats, including Word and plain text - our biggest problems came from documents created in Quark, but anything other than Distiller usually carried some type of “gotcha”.

Probably because of the Mac’s superior font rendering technology. Shhh! :wink:

Anyhizzle, perhaps sort of unconventional, but maybe try darkening the brightness on your monitor, increasing/decreasing its contrast, or setting the gamma higher (from 2.2 to 3.0 or something?) in your display control panel?

That is an ugly PDF file - in it’s internals, not just appearance. I suspect that it has been generated via some other toolset (something like TeX, or a Postscript printer driver capture) with font information embedded. Some of the text (dates, numbers, superscripts) appear to be embedded glyphs. I suspect that even Acrobat itself would struggle with that, due to there being no actual chunks of text to work with. I do not have Acrobat to try, though.


I thought it might have been created from a .jpg (meaning someone scanned it and saved it as a .jpg and then ran it through Acrobat’s OCR engine). That might account for the complete lack of spaces in the document.

Or the gamma lower. I always get that confused.

I think it has to do with the chosen font. Its contrasting thicks and thins are terrible for rendering on a monitor at that font size. Its thin strokes are incredibly thin, so, depending on how your OS renders fonts, those thin strokes could really get washed out, or antialiased to make it hard to read.

If you open it in Acrobat Reader, try increasing the font size. On the Mac, I can open it up in Safari or Preview (Mac’s own PDF and Image viewer) and hit Command + and – to increase and decrease the font size on the fly. Perhaps there’s something similar on Windows?

But that doesn’t account for the lack of spaces between words when saved as a text file, right?

Not sure. When I copied from Acrobat, then “Pasted Special: Unformatted Text” in Word, The spaces where there. Although, there was some weird formatting that could’ve come from something Acrobat introduced when the PDF was created, or whatever software they used to typeset the document. It may not have necessarily been Word.

Weird. Did the same thing, which cleared up the spacing problem. However, punctuation is showing up as some strange graphic, not text. I wish I knew how this file was created. OP, any idea?

It came out of Distiller

<< /Type /Metadata /Subtype /XML /Length 823 >> 
<?xpacket begin='' id='W5M0MpCehiHzreSzNTczkc9d' bytes='823'?>

<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf=''

 <rdf:Description about=''
  <pdf:Producer>Acrobat Distiller 5.0 (Windows)</pdf:Producer>

 <rdf:Description about=''

<?xpacket end='r'?>

and looks like it was typeset in LaTex using Type 3 postscript fonts (fonts are called T1, T11, T30 etc) as well as some Type 1 fonts. Some comments I have found indicate that Acrobat Reader used to struggle somewhat with Type 3 fonts (Type 3 postscript fonts can use the full postscript feature set, Type 1 fonts use a faster, easier subset).
So I think that this is the problem - Type 3 fonts, old Distiller version, LaTex (which always did better with preparing for printed output), and poor antialiasing on LCD screens. There also seems to be some font character mapping going on (thus the odd characters when copying/pasting) and the data streams are compressed in the PDF. You could try something based on Ghostscript to give a better rendering, but otherwise, you are probably out of luck.


On my monitor (an ordinary HP 27" 1080) it is legible and clear at 200% as is.
For a smaller monitor I suggest View…Zoom to Fit Width for maximal clarity and ease of reading without scrolling.


It doesn’t look the least little bit faint from over here. Do you mean that there’s one particular image/page/section that is faint? Are there any pictures in the PDF (I went throught it rapidly and saw none, but I was skipping around)?

I think the OP wants a bolder font.

Gsview is an open source document viewer based on the ghostscript library:

It has the option to output to jpeg or gif. You can then open in it and mess with the contrast.